Michael McBride

There comes a responsibility with sending ordnance down range. Once fired most weapons are on a one way mission to unleash their lethal, stored energies. The kinematics of the weapon and the explosives package are fused to get a specific result upon detonation. Mostly those results are designed to be lethal.

There is no recall button to push on the weapons menu once you release a HARM (High Speed Anti-radiation missile) towards an emitting target. There are no self-destruct buttons, so lavishly included in most Hollywood movies, which will protect innocents from the wayward launch of a MK-83 (general purpose, high explosive, air-to-ground ordnance, a.k.a. 1000 lb dumb bomb). There is no “do over” once the hammer strikes the firing pin.

The firing or release of any ordnance is an event that demands the focused attention of the person behind the weapon. It demands sound judgment based on conditions. It requires purposeful training and rehearsal, so that its effect is maximized and its collateral damage is minimized. It needs to be fired or released calmly and methodically. A hurried release may result in a fusing error, a guidance error, or simply a poorly aimed miss.

My Marine Option Instructor (MOI) at Tulane never made his Marines carry grenades in Vietnam. It was an optional weapon for his Marines. His reasoning was sound; a nervous or unsure Marine could do more damage to his own squad with a dropped grenade than would likely happen in a full on fire fight with the enemy. Weapons must be firmly and competently handled at all times.

Before the trigger is pulled, before the pin is pulled, before the lanyard is pulled, before the pickle button is pushed, the person holding onto or sitting in the weapon must know what the impact of that weapon will be.

Just as Pete Domenici and Gordon Smith should have known what their votes sending our troops to Iraq would entail. They knew that our military would do harm and suffer harm. Such is the power of a Senatorial vote.

Their votes were votes that would have our soldiers, Marines, airmen, sailors and Coasties killed in combat. They were votes that would result in thousands of our men and women suffering grave injuries. Their votes would unleash a string of events that would commit our country into a mission from which there was no recall button, no “do over.” Their votes unleashed the full combat power of the greatest military to yet to walk the face of the earth.

Michael McBride

Michael E. McBride retired as a Major from the Marine Corps and blogs at http://www.mysandmen.blogspot.com.

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